Russian figure skating routine offensive to Holocaust

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By Eliseé Browchuk
For The Mitzpeh
@Mitzpeh

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Russian skaters shocked the world with offensive Holocaust-themed performance

The famous Russian ice-skating pair, Tatiana Navka and Andrei Burkovsky, is raising eyebrows worldwide after their Holocaust-themed performance on reality television show, “Ice Age.”

The routine was based on the famous Italian film “Life is Beautiful,” a story about a Jewish father and son who fight the terrors of the concentration camps with imaginative games. It is catching the attention of people affected by the Holocaust for its cultural appropriation the historical event in Jewish history.

Even though the routine follows the essence of the film’s plot line, the overarching issues stem from the ethical rationale of simulating a terrifying time in our world’s history.

Olympic ice-skater Navka and partner Burkovsky dressed in a traditional striped set with an embroidered yellow six-pointed star, and glided around the rink gleaming through every questionable twist and turn. The upbeat performance, set to Israeli singer Achinoam Nini’s “Beautiful That Way,” illuminates the need to define boundaries between using historical events for entertainment over education.

The insensitive performance choreographed by Olympic medalist Ilya Averbukh fails to show the dark truth and horrors of the Holocaust deeming it to be overall offensive. The pair’s gleeful dance moves and happy demeanor undermine the severity of the Holocaust and the millions of innocent people killed in the concentration camps.

“The performance itself was not directly offensive,” said Sammi Straus, a junior psychology major. “However, the motive behind the couples’ decision to poorly recreate such a tragic event in world history is offensive.”

Russia’s reputation for anti-Semitism under Vladimir Putin’s rule emphasizes to the crass demonstration of Jewish victims’ terrifying experiences in concentration camps.

The performance became offensive to some viewers as the ice-skating pair sanctions the Jewish culture by neglecting to accurately portray the Nazi’s cruelty and the dehumanizing camps.

“The performance seemed to lack educational integrity and motives,” said Straus. “A majority of the routine depicts the Jewish victims’ experience in the concentration camps as a joyful time, a harsh exaggeration of the depressing reality my grandparents and many others escaped from.”

Furthermore, the symbols representing the Holocaust from the pair’s pajama outfit to the shocking gunshot as the end of the performance should not be used for entertainment purposes. Using such recognized Holocaust artifacts in the routine misrepresents the culture and becomes offensive.

The fact that the judges on the show gave Navka and Burkovsky a perfect score applauds the performance’s disrespectful cultural appropriation and further indicates a failure in Russia’s entertainment industry.

Enraged viewers are taking to social media to create awareness about and to find the motives behind the offensive performance. The backlash spreading from country to country supports the insensitivity of the routine and its offensive interpretation.

“I am very disheartened and shocked by the performance,” said Morgan Cafritz, a junior communications major and active member in the Jewish community on campus. “The routine is not only offensive to me, but also to those who lost their lives under such traumatic circumstances, which are poorly represented by the figure skaters.”

Eliseé is a junior multiplatform journalism major. She can be reached at browchuck@terpmail.umd.edu

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